The historic Steinway piano factory in Queens has Robert De Niro in its sights for the future. The owner of Steinway & Sons has agreed to sell close to half of the piano maker’s 11-acre lot for $73 million to a group of investors including De Niro. John Paulson, the billionaire hedge-fund mogul, who purchased the factory in 2013 for $512 million, and has been looking to sell it for roughly $1 billion.
As reported by the NY Post, the 75-year-old “Goodfellas” actor and academy award winner is purchasing the Astoria lot together with his son Raphael, his longtime business partner Jane Rosenthal and his longtime friend, Adam Gordon, who leads the film investment company Wildflower. They plan to develop the grounds into a 500,000-square-foot film studio, a pre- and post-production office and a parking area on the Astoria lot.
A representative for the 160-year-old company was quick to dispel any fears that the selloff may indicate a reduction of their own business. “This land is excess property that was not being used for the production of our pianos,” said a Steinway spokesman. “Steinway has built the world’s finest pianos on this site since the early 1870s and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.”
Paulson made billions before the financial crisis by shorting the housing market. When he purchased the piano company, six years ago, he said he was in “awe of the brand”. He had grown up in a family of piano players, and his sister had wept as a child when their family could not afford to buy a Steinway piano.
“My goal in owning Steinway is to first of all preserve it,” Paulson had said at the time, noting that he had no plans to make any major changes or move production out of its current factories in Astoria or Hamburg, Germany. Despite his appreciation for the company, Paulson would be willing to part with it if he could double his money. Last August, Paulson had reportedly been in talks with a Chinese buyer for the company discussing the price of $1 billion, but no deal has been made as yet.
De Niro’s investor group has plans to devote over $400 million to developing the property. The group will tap Newmark Knight Frank’s Dustin Stolly and Jordan Roeschlaub to raise the necessary $150 million in equity and $275 million in debt.
In January 2018, De Niro was in the Astoria area filming scenes for Martin Scorsese’s upcoming feature film ‘The Irishman,” in which he stars as Frank Sheeran, alleged Jimmy Hoffa killer and labor union leader.
Paulson, Wildflower, Stolly and Roeschlaub did not immediately comment on the deal.
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